Monday, October 10, 2011

I am on a diet. That is to say I am eating smaller portions, particularly in the evening, and have lost two stone. Went to a birthday dinner the other evening and wore clothes I haven’t been able to get into for fourteen years or so. I want to lose another stone but taking it slowly day by day. Eating less is the only sure-fire way to lose weight. We tried the Doctor Atkins diet once and lost a couple of pounds and that was it. Certainly didn’t feel any healthier for it. Other diets have proved equally inefficacious. I’ve had a weight problem most of my life though why this should be, apart from eating too large portions and having a very sweet tooth, I really don’t know because looking at photographs of myself up to the age of about ten or so I wasn’t exactly skinny but there was no sign of any superfluous weight. I didn’t start the diet deliberately. After my illness it just sort of happened but I’m certainly glad it did.

A number of times I have received e-mails that included photos of truly obese people, mainly American or African and it is never a pretty sight. I don’t know why Africans should be so gross but I can understand the Americans because they simply have no limits to what they shove in their mouths, and not just the multi-calorie fast foods: all you can eat breakfasts for example. In a hotel in Charleston Douglas and I ordered sucking pig for dinner one night thinking we would get what we considered a normal sized portion of meat. What arrived? Half a sucking pig each! In the dining rooms at the university where I taught, students would shovel food onto their plates until they resembled mini-mountains but then, having gorged themselves to a virtual standstill, half of it was left and went to the trash. Such a terrible waste. In my first semester I attended a performance at the college’s dinner theatre and sat next to a lady who had two gigantic servings of the main course before returning for a third. This was accompanied by those soft rolls the Americans call biscuits and was followed by two enormous helpings of dessert. Funny language, American: how can a soft roll be called a biscuit when the word biscuit comes from bis cottes meaning twice baked, that is rusks, originally hard tack for Roman soldiers? And how come the plural mathematics, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, is shortened to the singular math instead of maths? But I digress so back to the subject of food.

Obesity has become a major health problem in both America and Britain and not just with adults but with their kids, including quite a few in Greece. I suppose if you spend your life (apart from going to school where you sit in a classroom anyway) seated in front of the telly or a computer and you consume more calories than are needed the outcome is inevitable – you’re going to get fat. Sad when you think that, although food is so plentiful half the world doesn’t get enough to eat.

As Wilkins McCawber was fond of saying, ‘Income twenty pounds, expenditure nineteen pound nineteen and sixpence, result happiness. Income twenty pounds, expenditure twenty pounds and sixpence, result misery.’

You could apply it to calories; two thousand calories (or however many calories it is reckoned for a daily intake) slim, two thousand five hundred calories, fat. And make no mistake about it.

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